News: Obibini: A no-spoilers photo review

Friday 9 June 2017

Obibini - Carole Edrich

Obibini is an immersive dance theatre production created by Spoken Movement at Redbridge Drama Centre

Carole Edrich give us a no spoiler review, matched with a series of rehearsal images.

two female performers turn their heads from one another in Obibini

Obibini is a new and fully immersive piece created by Kwame Asafo-Adjei (creative director) and Victoria Shulungu (producer) of Spoken Movement with the support of Redbridge Drama Centre. It was so good that it is inconceivable that this work won’t tour. This no-spoilers review shouldn’t spoil anything if you’re yet to see it.

a still from the animation used in Obibini

The audience had first been primed in the bar with an intriguing manga-style animation, and then, after the interval because as we filed into the auditorium the performers were already exerting a subtle but humorous on-stage presence.

performers in Obibini

performers in Obibini

The sell-out audience was split in two. My half was first lead into a large darkened room with a single large block placed off-centre where we were subjected to a visceral krump-based, ultra-expressive performance where we were dragged through a story of striving, fighting and seeking despite the fact that the dancers were sometimes not even the room. The vibrant masculinity of the dark skinned principal dancers was turned on its head first with the brief introduction of a stalking white man and then with the rapping rants of a beautiful woman.

a shot of a pair of feet dancing in Obibini

We were then lead to the auditorium where the same stalking white man revealed himself to have a bible. Without giving out spoilers, the performance in this room and in the other were intricately and inextricably bound in a way that demonstrated a maturity of creative confidence that provided an object lesson in privilege for those open enough to understand it.

performers in Obibini

Before the interval, the mood was lifted by an affectionate, funny and meticulous presentation of the story of a priest and his daughter, seen from the perspective of the daughter. Interacting with the audience, this piece, as much contemporary sitcom as dance theatre, showcased Spoken Movement’s versatility, particularly Kwame, who, without extra makeup, aged 30 years to assume the role of the preacher.

a man offers his hand wrapped in a black curtain as part of the performance piece Obibini

The final work, Chi, was a wryly observed, cleverly constructed and well-executed extract from the lives, trials and tribulations of three south London boys. That two of the boys were well played by girls set the scene with an increased sense of bathos, and a number of believable laugh-and-cringe instances followed.

performers in Obibini

This four-in-one production was a seminal marker in the development of dance and physical theatre. It was powerful and visceral with disturbing perspectives, a serious socio-political message, bathos accompanying the underlying good humour and a certain amount of high art. In years to come I’ll be proudly proclaiming that I was there. Watch out for when it’s next performed so that you can too.’

Images by Carole Edrich and Gavin Ives.
Video by Gavin Ives.

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